It has been a good week. I have been surrounded by genuinely good people. It makes my heart flutter a bit to be reminded of the preciousness of life, of meeting new people, trying new things, and having a wonder and awe that sometimes when you go outside of your routine you are able to look at life differently.
I actually love my routine. I love the structure it provides in my life, what it allows me to do. However, we all need moments, days, and weeks in our life where we live outside the bubble we live in. Where we feel uncomfortable, do something different, and have moments where our awkwardness sheds light into a different or new view on the world. Maybe that is through a new experience or challenge, new food, or a new culture.
I am on my way back from Shanghai, China. I have been here for two weeks, and in a few hours I will be flying back home. Next week I will share some highlights from my trip. It is a fascinating city, different from Portland in so many ways. I will not tell you about that now, as I want to savor my trip and let it marinate a bit. I will tell you that I am inspired by the conversations I had this week, the different individuals I met, the new friends I made.
As I said I want to process it all, put together the story of my week, but all in all, I feel blessed to have been surrounded by good people. It makes me optimistic about the world, it inspires me, and brings a smile to my face. We like what is comfortable. So often we go to work and interact with the same people, get into our car, drive home, and do it all over again. Sure we interact at the grocery store, or Target, or with the gas station attendant, but how often do we get to meet new people and truly connect with them for an extended period of time?
Good people. We should always surround ourselves with good people.
Do you ever have those days when you cannot decide what to wear? Of course you do, we all have them. Even men have them. Although I have a hunch that women have them much more often. Most likely it is our hormones. I cannot tell you how often in the past I ended up on the floor of the closest in tears (and trust me I rarely cry) because nothing fit, or nothing felt right on my body that day.
My usual instinct is to always be comfortable. Presentable, but comfortable. What makes things more complicated is when I have to do a presentation, whether in front of a larger group of people, or a group of leaders. It makes me think that much more about being comfortable while also presentable. I occasionally miss the years of my life when I worked from home and my only “clothing” mission of the day was that I take a shower before Chris came home from work. I could at times go days before ever leaving the house. I do not have that luxury anymore. Each day is a new day with all of its newness, oldness, and everything in between.
When I came across this photo on Pinterest, I thought “oh man that is so me.” On those days when I have to give a presentation and all I want to do is be ever so cozy, and yet I cannot be. Instead, I need to be a bit more put together. I need to be more aware of how what I wear does not distract from the ideas I am sharing or the strategy I may be rolling out. In the end, dress, clothes, and what we wear matters. That does not mean that I believe that you have to dress up, but what you put together and how you present yourself matters.
Does it matter for men in the same way? Yes and no. In many ways I have seen it first hand where a guy can wear a t-shirt and jeans and it not matter if he looks less “put together” and yet if a woman wore it in the same situation she would be considered dressed down. Not fair, but at the moment it is the state of things.
Embrace the days where you sit on the floor of your closet. See if you can find something that can express who you are supposed to be today, who you are, and who you want to be.
I am a fan of activity. We sit too much. We watch television, surf the Internet, and generally have become less mobile in recent years. I am not one that is comfortable sitting for long periods of time. I need to move. So when I saw that schools are utilizing standing desks, I thought: “What a great idea.” The article is titled: “Standing Desks Are Coming To Schools, To Cure Obesity And Increase Attention Spans” and it is brilliant that the focus is on obesity and attention spans.
I can remember the strange desks we had a school. Either you had one that had a top that pulled up (and sometimes would easily fall back down on your hand or your head). The base was made of metal, and the top part was made of wood. The other variation we had in my school was also wood + metal, but the desktop did not lift up, rather there was almost a cove/drawer that did not move and was open where you kept all your supplies. I think if I had a choice looking back I would take the more lethal variety of the open top desk. It allowed you to find things more easily, even if it sometimes felt like a hatchet.
In any case, neither desk did anything to help with obesity or attention spans which is why I love the idea of having kids stand. Whether for the attention span aspect of being able to focus more readily or to learn how to sit still, even if it means it is happening while standing. I wonder how many elementary school boys can stand long enough to make it through a class each day? However, if they can pass the test, maybe that is amazing progress for other kids.
Or you can take it to an entirely new level. with this Fast Company article titled: “This School Has Bikes Instead Of Desks–And It Turns Out That’s A Better Way To Learn.” Maybe we can have an amalgamation of both standing desks and bikes to add some variety. Well, actually mostly all for variety. I agree with the article, with physical education and recess being cut either entirely or significantly, maybe these are the new options for maintaining activity at schools?
A more focused and active child, what is not to love? What do you think?
I am a planner. I like to think things through. Yes, I can still be a “fly by the seat of my pants” kinda woman, but it happens after I plan a structure into life. I will give you an example. When I travel, I like to research a list of places we might want to go. Restaurants, green juice bars, cupcake bakeries, boutiques, brunch spots, art galleries, local artists, you name it. I explore the depths of it via the Internet, blogs, and even old school books such as Fodor’s at the library. I still cannot give up how easy it is to research and learn about a city from one book, then the time it can take to explore all those different details online. It just is not the same for me.
There have been times in my life when I have been told I am an over planner, that I think things through too much, or that I need to relax and let life happen. Let me tell you, I can do both, but I find that life happens at times because of a plan. There is often so many things I want to see in one city. If I do not research or explore (and depending on the size of the city) I could wander from far east to far west only to realize later that there is a place I want to see at the far east side. Depending on how long that takes, traffic, cost, etc it might mean that I never go back to that other location. Having a list of potential exploration ideas helps to do bundles of a city at once, by neighborhood. It also helps to be able to know what to look out for in a given area.
So when I came across this Eleanor Roosevelt quote last week, it made me ponder my ways.
“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.”
Let me tell you, when you are starving in an unknown city, and your “hangry” vibe kicks in and you find yourself in a neighborhood where the food looks less than a wee bit appetizing, and your smart phone for whatever reason is not picking up 3G, you will be grateful for the research you did at home before you left. You also might find that even with the research you find a multitude of new options and places to explore that you never would have found if you had not known to venture to that neighborhood.
I am not a wisher, I make a plan, and I make shit happen.
At times I have been called “ruthless.” I do not want to stop what I am doing, or turn off the road I am on. If I get an idea of something I want to accomplish, I will not give up until I am done, and not just done, but done well. If I get an idea to find something specific for our home, or a gift for someone I will hunt and explore until I find that perfect thing. Maybe the word I should use is “relentless.” As I looked into “ruthless” it gets a bad rap.
“Ruthless: having or showing no pity or compassion for others.”
“Quite candidly, I’m really ruthless in terms of doing only those things which are absolutely essential. I’m saying no to a lot, both in work and life. I see a lot of working moms who think they have to be 110% at work, and then volunteer to run the school auction. We’ve become so awful at saying no. I try hard to become incredibly selective about those things I engage with, so I can be really present for the stuff that I’m doing, and be really engaged with my kids in a meaningful way. People are trying to accomplish too much, and they’re killing themselves in the process.”
Most of us are trying to do too much. Most of us are asked to do too much. Most of us take on too much. Time for change? Yes. How can we make that happen? Be ruthless. I am very selective about the food I put into my body. I am selective about the people I spend my time with in life. I am selective about making sure I have time to workout. Why not be even more selective about saying no? As you may know this has been a theme in my blogs of recent weeks and months. My hope is to make gradually become relentlessly ruthless about my time and my engagement with others.